Class Dojo Adds Messaging, But I Still Need Remind

Class Dojo released a new in-app feature today allowing you to message parents, and I need to be honest. My first thought was, “Oh no! What’s going to happen to Remind 101!?” So, for better or worse, most of my thoughts of messaging within the Class Dojo app have focused on how it’s similar to Remind 101. This update makes Class Dojo even more useful as a teacher, but, as it turns out, there are still plenty of differences that also make Remind 101 a go-to app for parent communication. That said, I am definitely edustoked about how easy it is to connect with my classroom parents!

There are two ways to message parents in the Class Dojo app–Direct Messages and Broadcasts. Direct Messages are like sending a text message: it goes to one parent, and they can text back. Broadcasts go out to all parents (think Remind 101). Unlike Remind 101, parents can message back. When a parent replies to a Broadcast, it becomes a Direct Message.

I’ve been beta testing the new Messaging feature for a couple weeks. I’ve found that conversations with parents tend to be focused on behavior. The great thing is that data (aka Dojo points) are at a parent’s finger tips, so my messages tend to explain or elaborate what a parent is already seeing in their Class Dojo stream.

Another small, but significant feature is read receipts. When you want to make sure a parent reads something, this makes it so much easier. Handwritten notes that get lost in backpacks are now a thing of the past.

Having messaging built into the app is this feature’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Parents without a smartphone are out of the loop (for now). This is a big reason why I will continue to use Remind 101. When I want a simple way for parents to receive a one-way message, Remind 101 is definitely my preferred platform. But if I want to talk with a parent about a student or get some feedback, Class Dojo now makes it easy to start a conversation.

So far, parents have been stoked to hear more about their kids. Before Class Dojo messaging, I tended to only talk to parents about negative behavior. Now, I can quickly send a message. I’ve found that I’m sharing a lot more positive things about my students that I would without this feature. I’m excited to see that Class Dojo is expanding their features and enabling teachers to keep in touch with parents more easily. I’m looking forward to keeping my parents in the loop and including them on what’s going on in my classroom.


I Don’t Have Time For This Blog Post

I Don’t Have Time For This Blog Post

Bless me blogger for I have sinned. It has been two months since my last blog post.

I began this post seven weeks ago when I wanted to blog about something (I don’t even remember the topic now), and I couldn’t find time to write. It’s hard to stay afloat as an elementary school teacher. It’s hard to stay afloat as any kind of teacher. There is just too much paperwork, lesson planning, and meetings. How in the world am I supposed to find time to blog? No, seriously. How?

I know we are supposed to collaborate. I know we are supposed to share ideas. I just don’t know when. For the past three years, I taught elementary music. I had time during the school day (without students) to work. I could write lessons, write blog posts, or write music. It was amazing, and it was a rare teaching assignment that allowed this luxury. And not I no longer have this time.

Instead, I am required to partake in my district’s biennial “Teacher Goals,” where I spend hours working on a document that is sent only to my principal. I am just not motivated to write for an audience of one.

I work hard to remember how this feels (colossal wasting of time writing something I don’t want to write), so that I don’t do that to my students. I strive to find authentic writing opportunities for my students. We write songs together.

We share our writing in Google Docs. We’re collaborating with Scott Bedley‘s class–my students write and his students give feedback. Whatever the situation is, I make an effort to create an authentic writing environment (hey, I like the sound of that) where there’s an authentic audience. I’m beginning to believe that authenticity is an essential part of assignments if you want student buy-in.

So, I don’t know what the solution looks like for educators. I don’t think schools will build time into the school day for teacher reflection, and I don’t think I’m going to wake up at 4:30 am for quiet blogging time. If you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear it.